What is cryptocurrency’s role in the future of money?

ELAD GIL: So, from an end-user perspective there's a lot of questions around the impact of either Bitcoin or blockchains. And if you look at the very best technologies they tend to sort of eventually fade seamlessly into the background. So for example, you're using your phone every day, but you don't necessarily understand how TCPIP is working in terms of transmitting data on the Internet. And there's lots of examples like that where the best technology sort of fades into the background in terms of what you're doing. In the case of Bitcoin or related cryptocurrencies a lot of the near-term impact of that is really around financial services and the emergence of a new digital asset class. And so if you look at Bitcoin really what it is is in some sense a store of value or a store of wealth, and many people compare it to something like millennial gold. It's basically a digital asset that you hold as an investable product.

And so I think many of the early uses is just going to be this will end up being a part of everybody's portfolio in ten years, and you're going to have some proportion in bonds and some proportion in stocks, and then some proportion in cryptocurrencies. So I think for most people that's really how it's going to exist in the shorter-term. Some people are talking about the Web3 or Internet3 and how all infrastructure is going to flip over to decentralized cryptocurrency-based systems. I'm much more skeptical about that, at least in the short run. In part because centralized systems tend to be dramatically more efficient than decentralized systems; in other words if you look at the cost of running a centralized system it's much lower, you have bargaining power around the underlying hardware, you have economies of scale in terms of how you deploy it and where you place it, and also just running these systems is much simpler if you have a centralized approach.

What that means it is is that most of the times that you're going to see blockchains pop up is when you're using something that is uniquely associated with them. And if you ask what a blockchain is it's really sort of a bad database, but it has very unique characteristics where it has this notion of being trust-less, in other words you can, in aggregate, come to consensus or decisions together or conclusions around the quality of data, the quality of the transaction or other things in a way that no central authority can control.

And what that means is you've created systems that are effectively censorship proof or seizure resistant, in other words the government can't come and take your asset if you're in a country which has very bad governance, or it means that no third-party can suddenly accidentally erase your data, or you can't hack a third-party to access your data (although obviously you can still hack a blockchain).

And so really where that tends to crop up, if you ask "what are the things that I don't want the government or other third-party to take from me?" or a place where I want some notion of privacy around what I'm doing, it really tends to be around money or it tends to be around personal data. And in the long run I think those are the areas that are going to be most impacted, but I think in the short run really it's going to be about "Do you have a piece of this digital asset in your portfolio?"

  • The best technology fades into the background of our lives.
  • Cryptocurries will do the same, becoming a new asset class for investors like stocks and bonds.
  • Soon people will ask: "Do you have cryptocurrency in your investment porfolio?"


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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

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  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.